Craig Murto

Craig Murto

There is plenty of local racing still ahead for those who haven’t had enough.

First off, start coughing right now and tell the boss you feel really ill and need to go home. Then jump in your car and head to Dominion Raceway in Thornburg for the big Thursday night Late Model Stock Car show that’s sure to draw all of the top regional NASCAR competitors. When the Denny Hamlin Showdown event originally scheduled for Langley Speedway in Hampton was canceled, this race at Dominion Raceway was added to fill the void.

Saturday night set your DVR to record Richmond’s NASCAR Cup event and take yourself to Winchester Speedway, where the Modifieds will headline with a 40-lap feature on the competitive clay surface. Be sure to shout hello to Dave Menefee on the flag stand.

Then on Sunday, it’s time to go to Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland for open-wheel Sprint Cars. The All-Star Circuit of Champions and their powerful 410 Sprint Cars will headline the evening, which also includes a support division of 305 Sprints. If you like Sprint Cars, that’s the day for you at Hagerstown.

But be prepared for a great racing weekend Sept. 28-29. The Sports Car Club of America holds its final races of the year at Summit Point in West Virginia, near Berryville. Free admission, free camping; if you don’t at least head over to catch some of the action, can you really be a race fan? It’s free; don’t pass it up.

In fact, set up camp at Summit Point. Then, after Saturday’s races, head back to Winchester Speedway for the Donnie Smith Memorial event. This race appears to end Winchester’s season, featuring 40 laps for Modifieds and 35 laps for crate-engine Late Models, as well as a couple of other support divisions. On the way out, tell flagger Dave Menefee what a great job he did all year.

October offers the best reason to visit Martinsville Speedway that doesn’t involve the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Oct. 5, the NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars take to the track for their annual event. Always a thriller, almost never without controversy. Once you see the 200-lap Late Model Stock Car feature on the flat half-mile, you won’t want to miss it. The race nearly always attracts 100 cars to try to make the starting grid, and the qualifying races alone are worth the price of admission.

The NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars again take the top spot on the calendar Oct. 19, when Dominion Raceway in Thornburg hosts its biggest event of the year, “The Big One.” It should be a jam-packed show with multiple divisions of racing. The track has some pretty good sandwiches, too.

As the air gets chilly, the racing remains hot. Just four hours south in South Boston, Virginia, the famous South Boston Speedway will host the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Tour on Nov. 2. This will be a big event with two features, one for the Super Late Model division and one for the Late Model Stock Cars. Expect to see South Boston regulars challenge the CARS Tour Late Model Stock touring racers for the win in their feature, and expect the Super Late Model division to attract some of the top pavement Late Model competitors on the East Coast.

And if you’re really feeling adventurous, book your room and buy your ticket now for the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, Dec. 5-9.

The Snowball Derby is the biggest Super Late Model race of the year in the country. In fact, the race has literally made people’s careers. When two-time winner Erik Jones out-raced Kyle Busch to win the Snowball, Busch immediately got on the phone with Toyota and let them know that they’d be wise to hire the young Jones, now a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing and recent winner of the Southern 500. Snowball Derby winners read like a who’s who list of all-star stock car racers from around the country and include Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, John Hunter Nemechek, Steve Wallace, Johanna Long, David Stremme, Matt Kenseth’s son, Ross, Donnie Allison, Pete Hamilton, Darrell Waltrip, Ted Musgrave, Gary St. Amant and most recently Noah Gragson.

But Snowball Derby weekend is more than just a Super Late Model race. The Snowflake 100 for crate-engine cars attracts all-star racers as well, and with racing truck and street stock divisions in support, Pensacola is the heart of the stock car racing world in early December.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.